Hello Oma: Café To Catering

Hannah Sellinger

Kristofer Kalas’s new, thimble-sized space, Hello Oma, opened on Race Lane a few months ago, and has been churning out coffee, chocolate, baked goods, pizza, and other prepared foods ever since.

It’s hard to know how to categorize Hello Oma. Is it a café? Yes, kind of. Is it a restaurant? It’s kind of that, too. Is it capable of providing you with your holiday dinner? Yep. This year, Kalas, whose background involves working as a private chef, offered brined and trussed turkeys, as well as a selection of pies, sides, and other Thanksgiving-related foods, all of which was available for pickup right before the holiday. Which is to say: This is also a catering hall, albeit a very tiny one.

Kalas comes from a long line of food people. Two of his godmothers are farm owners, and he gets a great deal of his produce from Regina Whitney’s East Hampton farm and Franca Tantillo’s Berried Treasures in the Catskills. One of the concepts he heartily embraces is that of zero waste. Summer chamomile is hung to dry to be used in winter tea. Disposable cups are verboten. The café uses glass jars, for which they charge a small deposit. This place is making an impact with sustainable practices.

The restaurateur has long-since produced his own chocolates, and they’re the opening of the Hello Oma show. But there is truly no singular item for which Hello Oma is well-known — because there are numerous food things at which it excels. That includes the pizzas, which are made daily and change with the seasons. The café also offers pizza classes to community members. For $110 per person, participants can learn about fermenting and making dough, stretching it, topping it, and baking it into a pizza.

Hello Oma also offers a barista course for $75. Guests will learn how to pull the perfect espresso, steam milk, make pour-over coffees, and produce such niche items as matcha and chai lattes.

What else can you grab at Hello Oma? A breakfast sandwich, muffins, a kardemummabullar (Swedish cardamom bun). There is cake, because, well, why not? A steady roster of breakfast-y foods like overnight oats, chia and mango, and truffles will ensure you’re never hungry by midday. “Oma,” which means grandmother in German, is why the café hopes to evoke a homey atmosphere: “A place to call home, away from home.”

Mostly, though, you should know the people at Hello Oma are dedicated to making real food. The company’s nascent website lists the producers — from growers to meat purveyors — it uses so that you, as a consumer, know exactly where your food is coming from. Why shouldn’t you know where your breakfast sandwich eggs came from? Why wouldn’t you want to know the provenance of the apples in that perfect pie? A marriage of the modern specialty market and the local farm stand, Hello Oma offers the convenience of a one-stop shop with the ethos of a farm down the road.

It will be interesting in the coming year to watch this business expand on its vision. Will Hello Oma broaden its scope? Offer sit-down dinners? Sell the bespoke chocolates online? I cannot say for certain, but I can say the mantra espoused on the website says more about who’s behind the company and what it aims to accomplish. “Come inside. Sit down. Enjoy. There is no rush.” Indeed, the Hello Oma life is one we should all consider embracing.

Visit Hello Oma at www.hellooma.com.

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